05.20.09

ENZI: PEACE TREATY WITH PHILIP MORRIS NO WAY TO WIN WAR ON TOBACCO

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today denouncedHELP Committee approval of a bill requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) toregulate tobacco, arguing that the bill would do nothing to stop anyone from smoking orhelp them quit, and would place new burdens on a struggling agency.

“Trying to make cigarettes safer through a billion-dollar bureaucracy is awaste of time and money,” Enzi said. “This bill will do nothing to help people quitsmoking, or stop kids from taking up this deadly habit. We need to fight the war ontobacco head on, not sign a peace treaty with Philip Morris, one of the authors andstrongest supporters of this bill.

“My fierce opposition to smoking is a result of smoking killing my dad, and mymom, and my mother-in-law, and second-hand smoking conclusively affecting me. Thisis not political. This is personal.”

Enzi said he regrets that many of his efforts – and those of other Republicanmembers of the Committee – to amend and improve the bill were rejected in theDemocrat majority’s rush to approve the tobacco bill, S.982. Enzi offered amendmentsto move tobacco regulation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),which is better suited for the job, and to let science, not politics, determine how toregulate all flavors, including menthol. Enzi is also working to increase penalties fortobacco companies who break the law and to reduce health insurance premiums fornonsmokers.

“We must do more to put out smoking, but this misguided bill isn’t thesolution,” he added.

Enzi said that requiring FDA to regulate tobacco would take away from itscore mission, regulating medical products designed to restore health and keeping thenation’s food supply safe.

“When the HELP Committee last marked up this legislation, things were rocky atthe FDA. Now they are critical. That agency simply cannot be tasked with regulatingtobacco, or its entire public health mission could collapse. FDA approves cures, notpoisons. Food safety and drug safety have to be the top priorities for FDA,” he said.“Every day, we hear about some new problem the Food and Drug Administrationfaces in protecting our health. From contaminated peanut butter to tainted toothpaste tocounterfeit blood thinner, this agency is in dire need of Congressional support to carryout its mission. We should be focusing our efforts on increasing the number ofinspectors, and on updating the food safety authorities, not on adding an impossibleburden that perverts the agency’s mission.”

Enzi supported a substitute amendment, which the Committee rejected, thatwould have created a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Servicesto regulate tobacco instead of FDA. That amendment would have nearly eliminatedadvertising for tobacco products, prohibited the use of terms like “light” and “mild,”required full disclosure of ingredients in tobacco products and made it more difficult forkids to purchase or use tobacco.

The HELP Committee approved the bill by a 15-8 vote.

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